Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A different perspective . . .

As we look back over the year and all that the Lord has done at Redeemer's House, I wanted to get some feedback from some of you that have visited us in Guatemala. I wanted the rest of you to hear from someone other than me about what it looks like to serve the poor. My new and dear friend Rebecca Radicchi agreed to write about her visit earlier this summer. You can read more about Rebecca and her family on her blog.

Food, education, clothing, shelter, health care.  The needs of the poor are many.  Redeemer’s House International has chosen to impact the poor by investing in some of Guatemala’s most vulnerable, at-risk families.  They seek to build relationships that transform lives through the love of Christ. 

Most of the families within their adopt-a-family program are single mothers like Lucia.  She is a tiny woman who walks the streets of Panajachel selling souvenirs.  Carrying a large cloth sack full of her wares, she finds an open spot on the street.  Laying out her bookmarks, blankets and purses, she can only hope to draw the attention of a shopper. She lives on the edge of survival, hoping each day only to feed her children. A sickness, storm or slow selling season threatens her ability to care for her kids.

Lucia selling her Guatemalan wares.

While serving alongside Redeemer’s House this past summer, we visited several families like Lucia’s.   With a small bag of rice, beans, fruit and veggies in hand, we visited as friends.  Though we walked into homes where three kids slept on a stack of cardboard boxes, where rain poured in through cracks in ceilings, where there was no electricity and no water, we honored their lives and their homes.  Though everything in us wanted to start making shopping lists and organizing building teams, we simply connected and made sure they had food for dinner.

Truly this was a trip of both the mind and the heart for me.  God had things to show me.  My heart, heavy with memories of poverty seen on other mission trips in other places, has been processing how to serve without hurting.  With Redeemer’s House, I saw this in action.  Knowing that Christ alone can redeem, we fought the urge to play savior.  Knowing that our help could create competition between families and neighbors, we met needs carefully.  Not wanting to put local businesses out of jobs by bringing suitcases of clothes, shoes and gifts, we gave only ourselves.  Not wanting to create non-sustainable dependence, we brought food for only a few meals. 

This ministry does meet some tangible needs for their families.  During our stay, food and water filters were distributed, medicine bought, a kitchen table constructed, money donated to pay for a surgery, and a single mother was moved into a better living situation.  Yet these things too were done carefully, without the intention of “fixing”.  Ultimately, our hope was that the poor of Guatemala see God as provider, as healer, as their hope.   Our desire was to serve only in ways that pointed them to Jesus.  

a peek into a Guatemalan home

Looking into the eyes of the poor, empties me.  Walking the streets in Panajachel refocused my heart, off of myself, and onto to Jesus.  I was reminded that I can’t seem to fix myself, and that I certainly am incapable of fixing the hurting with a suitcase of shoes.  Spending the week doing ministry with the Radfords was an opportunity to serve in a new way, carrying only the hope of the gospel and a willingness to pour ourselves out for one another.  It was a game changer. 

"Our relationship with the materially poor should be one in which we recognize that both of us are broken and that both of us need the blessing of reconciliation. Our perspective should be less about how we are going to fix the materially poor and more about how we can walk together, asking God to fix us both."
-from When Helping Hurts by Fikkert & Corbett

Rebecca and her new girlfriends!

Thank you, Rebecca for sharing your thoughtful insights. Can't wait to serve side by side again. 

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